Berg Wu studied electrical engineering in university, which might give the impression that he’s intense and nerdy. Well, he is intense and nerdy when it comes to coffee, but he is such a warm, friendly person. There’s a happy, kind softness to him.
Berg is back to the WBC for the third time ”he competed in the 2014 WBC in Rimini, Italy, and the 2015 WBC in Seattle ”but his impressive performance in yesterday’s semifinals round resulted in history being made: This is the first time Taiwan has appeared in the finals of a WBC.
Berg and his wife own a small coffee shop in Taiwan called Simply Kaffa. He says their intent is to make coffee simply and beautifully, that it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. But when it comes to the WBC, performances tend to be complicated. They’re supposed to be inventive and unique. Somehow, Berg did this while staying true to his core value of simplicity.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Berg’s performance to me was that he chilled his portafilters. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before. He says it makes the coffees more explosive in the cup, and it makes the aromas much more rich and round. It’s a very interesting concept.
Berg’s signature drinks sounded pretty amazing, as well. Again, it was simple and beautiful from the outset, but the level of thought that went into it was extensive, and the result was quite original. He combined an orange juice and honey reduction with a small shot of Earl Gray tea, and the espresso, in a long-necked bottle. He then reached for a diffuser sitting at the end of the table, which had two essential oils, including mandarin, and he allowed the vapors from the diffuser to seep into the bottle along with the espresso and other ingredients. It was quite unique.
You can tell Berg is a seasoned competitor. And you can also tell that he’s a serious foodie: his understanding of the way flavors can work together was extraordinary. He says his favorite flavors to combine with coffees are juices ”he just loves the sweet and sour that comes through and complements coffee’s natural flavors.
This was a beautiful, enjoyable, and memorable performance, Berg. Congratulations!